Recycling "Gray" Water
Save Water with Mulch
Saving Water in the Garden
Where I live, water is extremely expensive. I'm faced with a choice of recycling water or giving up gardening. We grow many fruits, veggies, and flowers, but it's just become too expensive and were facing another rate increase next month. Does anyone have information on how to recycle water, how to get the water ready for reuse, rules for reusing water, and any necessary containers? Thanks!
If possible, route your gutter downspout toward your garden area. If not possible, put a bucket at your downspout to collect water. If no gutters or downspout, simply leave a bucket out in the yard to collect rainwater for your use when needed (between rainy days). You can also collect water during the winter in a garbage can for use all the rest of the year. Put some sort of screening on top to filter your water from leaves, bugs (and their larva), and other unintended articles that may wind up in it.
This may not save a lot of water but every little bit helps. When drawing a bath, it takes about 10-15 seconds for the warm water to get up to the second floor, so I keep two plastic jugs to fill with water from the bathtub spigot. I let them fill until the water gets warm. I let them sit for 24 hours to dissipate the chlorine and then I use one for pet water and the other I use for plant water. The handiest jugs I have found are the white kitty litter jugs. Since it's just clay, it's not harmful to the pets after being washed out.
A great way to conserve the water you've used in your garden and flowerbeds is to put down heavy layers of mulch to keep the soil moist. Lay newspaper (preferably wet from dousing in rainwater before laying it down) where ever you want mulch, and then cover that with two to three inches (or more) of grass clippings or compost. This will make a big difference both in water usage and in weeding.
One solution may be to change your garden and lawn. I just read a great book called The 20-Minute Gardener by Tom Christopher and Mary Asher. They recommend using your local Cooperative Extension as a resource. They can help you determine what plants naturally thrive in your climate. They will even test the pH of your soil if you bring in a sample. Having plants that will do well with little watering besides the natural rainfall of your region can cut your water bill and make your gardening a lot easier to boot.
Jill F. in Minneapolis
I garden in raised beds or container gardens where I can add water soluble crystals to the soil. The crystals retain water longer than the soil. Therefore, you will need to use less water. Check out your local nursery for these crystals.
I keep a bucket in my shower on the floor. While I wait for the water to warm up, I collect it in the bucket. During my shower, I just move the bucket to the side. Later, I take the bucket and water my flower boxes with it.
We have a dehumidifier in our home to take out the extra moisture in the air. My husband takes out at least 40 pints a day. He uses it to water our plants on the porch and near our home that the rain can't reach.
As a gardener, I understand. I've made a rain barrel to catch rainwater from my roof through the downspout. It catches just about all I need for my gardening needs. I attached a faucet to which I can connect my hose or under which I can fill a bucket. I believe you can find plans for the barrel on the Web. You could make one for every downspout if your watering needs are heavy. Another idea is to plant drought-tolerant plants and Native plants that don't need much water.
You could also plant a rain garden into which you direct your downspout water. See the Web for more information on these gardens. Use mulch around all your plants and trees to keep the moisture in the soil.
Collect the "gray water" from the rinse cycle of your clothes washer. You can use this on your landscaping. Just make sure you use a detergent without phosphates.
I live in San Diego where water is also valuable and what I do is use "dirty" water to flush the toilet. I save all the water I wash dishes with, rinse dishes with, wash my hands with (I have a bowl there to collect it), and that runs while it's warming up. I have three five-gallon pails I collect it in and use these to pour water down the toilet bowl. Since I'm saving all this water, I feel okay about using clean water in the garden. Also, if I have more water than I need (like after rinsing a lot of veggies all at once) and the water is clean (no soap), I take it right outside and pour it directly on a plant or two.
Check out Square Foot Gardening
at your library or order it interlibrary. It contains the best plan that I've found for responsible water use and a better yield from the garden. My library charges $1 to get a book from a library outside their region, but this book is worth every cent. Once you've read it over, you may decide to buy the book. My water bill for gardening decreased 65%! I also got more use out of the plot I was using. The increase in my yield alone was twice what it had been. So twice the yield at 35% of the cost of water! Beat that!
Sandra A. in Albuquerque, NM
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